For three decades the English composer Nigel Clarke (b. 1960) has worked in close collaboration with the violinist Peter Sheppard Skærved. Clarke’s engaging and energetic music often takes its cue from a dramatic or poetic impulse, here featuring two tributes to Edith Cavell, the British nurse shot in the First World War, two musical portraits of the town of Dover, and Parnassus, the first piece to result from this collaboration, which initiated a series of pieces for string ensemble, most recently for their virtuoso collective Longbow.
Sébastien Rousseau, flugel horn; Malene Sheppard Skærved, speaker; Longbow; Peter Sheppard Skærved, violin/director;
Catalogue No: TOCC0325EAN/UPC: 5060113443250Release Date: 02.10.2015Composer: Nigel Clarke Artists: Longbow, Malene Sheppard Skærved, Peter Sheppard Skærved, Sébastien Rousseau
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Bruce Reader :
“… Parnassus for Thirteen Solo Strings (1986-87) was written for the ensemble Parnassus founded by Peter Sheppard Skӕrved and was premiered at the Purcell Room, London, UK in 1988. … This is a very attractive work that receives a very fine performance here. The Scarlet Flower for Flugal Horn and Thirteen Solo Strings (2014) was written as a memorial for Edith Cavell with the solo part acting as the voice of Cavell. … The music leads through passages that are a test for any brass player with some terrific playing from Sébastian Rousseau. … Nigel Clarke writes in his CD booklet note of the importance of collaboration. With the next work, Dogger, Fisher, German Bight, Humber, Thames, Dover, Wight for Speaker, Thirteen Solo Strings and Sound Design (2012-14) that is especially true. Writer and poet Malene Sheppard Skærved has provided the text for this work and is the speaker on this recording. It is performed by Longbow whose artistic directors are Peter Sheppard Skærved and Nigel Clarke. … This is a very fine work… Pulp and Rags for Thirteen Solo Strings (2012-15) again arose from the War and Peace project. The work takes its inspiration from the old, now closed, Buckland Paper Mill near Dover particularly in its rhythms, sonorities and fingerboard slaps. … This a terrific work that no string orchestra should ignore when planning a concert. Epitaph for Edith Cavell for solo violin (2015) is a reworking for muted violin of the flugal horn solo that opens The Scarlet Flower. It was first performed at the National portrait Gallery, London, UK in 2015. Peter Sheppard Skærved weaves some very fine textures as he takes this piece forward, a rather plaintive melody that, nevertheless, has a textural strength. It travels through some beautifully controlled, quieter passages before the hushed coda is reached. This is a particularly lovely and moving work. This new release contains some very fine works for strings played phenomenally well by these players. As a string player himself Peter Sheppard Skærved extracts the very best form his players. They receive a first rate recording and there are excellent notes from Nigel Clarke and Peter Sheppard Skærved.” —The Classical Reviewer, 23 November 2015
Peter Burwasser :
“Longbow demonstrates a virtuosity and an ability to express widely varying musical styles, reflecting the composer’s eclectic manner. … You hear this esthetic right away in the wildly colorful and energetic Parnassus … It’s daring and even jarring counterpoint shows the influence of eastern European Modernists, including Penderecki and Ligeti. The lovely work for flugel horn (played with eloquence and creamy tone by Sébastien Rousseau) and Longbow’s 13 strings sounds nostalgic by comparison … Cavell is also the subject of the solo violin music that closes the program. Both works evoke the pastoral British musical tradition, with distinctive folk elements, especially in the solo violin music. In between the two Cavell tributes are two additional works of very different impact, including the fun, rowdy Pulp and Rags, with a sound-scape inspired by old paper mill machinery. … In the longest work on this CD (nearly half an hour), Dogger, Fisher, German, Blight, Humber, Thames, Dover, Wight for speaker, 13 solo strings, and sound design, Dover is once again the subject. … the words, imbued with the rich history of this place, as well as subtly powerful sense of the specific nature of an English seaside town (its foods, habits, and culture), are evocative and dreamy. Clarke weaves in recorded sounds of sea birds and the beautiful white noise of crashing waves, and concludes with his own music recalling Britten’s sea music. … this is a fascinating and frequently enchanting music…” —Fanfare Magazine, March/April 2016
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